Remembering Keith Allison

One-time solo artist and member of Paul Revere & The Raiders Keith Allison passed away on November 19, 2021. He was very active on Facebook and shared his ongoing adventures with his fans, and also offered up a wealth of archival material from the Raiders days.

To fully appreciate Keith’s legacy with The Raiders, it’s worth looking at the band’s distinct eras. 1965 brought “Here They Come,” their embryonic and unvarnished garage rock foray into the spotlight. What followed remains a benchmark of classic American Garage Rock…”Just Like Us” (1966), “Midnight Ride” (1966) and “Spirit of 67.” Most of the songs on the original 1967 vinyl album “Greatest Hits” were drawn from these albums.

In August 1967, the band released the first album from the new Raiders lineup, adding Joe Correro Jr. on drums, Freddy Weller (also a solo artist) on guitar, and Charlie Coe (a guitarist in the 1963 band, rejoining on bass). Original Raiders Drake Levin (guitar), Phil “Fang” Volk (bass) and Mike “Smitty Smith (drums) also appeared…uncredited…as did Levin’s replacement, Jim “Harpo” Valley (guitar). Augmented by also-uncredited Glen Campbell, Ry Cooder, Van Dyke Parks, and “Wrecking Crew” drummer Hal Blaine, it marked the band’s transition from Garage Rock into a more pop-oriented sound.

This lineup continued until 1969, when Keith Allison replaced Charlie Coe on bass for the Hard & Heavy (with Marshmallow) album, the title an obvious good-natured poke at the band’s sound. This album and the next, Alias Pink Puzz, yielded hits like “Let Me” and “Cinderella Sunshine,” with Allison now writing or co-writing some of the band’s material with Mark Lindsay.

Then, in 1970, Mark Lindsay took a sharp right turn into the realm of harder, darker, more rock-oriented songs with the Collage album. The band shortened its name to “Raiders,” and the name remained through their final studio album in 1972, Country Wine. In between those two albums was the Indian Reservation album in 1971, featuring the title track, a cover of the John D. Loudermilk original, and surprisingly the band’s first #1, platinum-selling single.

The 1967-1969 edition of the band, with Charlie Coe, was reasonably consistent. The Allison era marks what is easily the period of their most dramatic re-invention, largely spurred by Lindsay, but absolutely bolstered by the input of Allison.

When the band folded after “Country Wine,” following the departure of Lindsey and everyone except Paul Revere himself, Revere re-cast the band again, with the return of the Colonial outfits, the early Raiders on-stage antics, and a setlist that…other than “Indian Reservation” and classic Garage / Soul covers like “Mustang Sally”…was drawn almost exclusively from that first Greatest Hits album. The band went full circle, largely omitting the Goin’ To Memphis – Country Wine years.

But if you were there, you know that fans continued to follow and cheer on the Allison-era band. After Paul’s passing, the band continued as “Paul Revere’s Raiders,” and while the Keith Allison years, for the most part, have gone largely unrepresented on concert stages, there is no denying the fact that he played a major role in a distinctive and lasting chapter of the band’s history. Rest in peace, Keith.